Dong-A ST’s hard work to develop an innovative medicine appears to be finally paying off, industry watchers said.
The company recently unveiled a positive result of a study on investigational immunotherapy DA-4501, jointly being developed by AbbVie.
According to the result of the preclinical trial of DA-4501, released at the latest meeting of the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR), the drug showed the possibility to raise the efficacy of lung cancer treatment when used together with blockbuster immunotherapy Keytruda.
The researchers have demonstrated that MerTK inhibitor (DA-4501) was involved in the anti-cancer immune response through experiments on PDX (patient-derived xenograft) models that induced squamous-cell lung cancer. They confirmed that tumors got smaller under the combination therapy of Keyruda and DA-4501 than the monotherapy of DA-4501.
Even though DA-4501 was only at the drug candidate discovery stage, Dong-A ST clinched a $525 million worth deal with AbbVie Biotechnology to license out DA-4501 on Dec. 28, 2016.
In January last year, the Korean company agreed to license out its diabetic neuropathy treatment DA-9801 to NeuroBo Pharmaceuticals. The new medicine is soon to be tested in a phase-3 trial in the U.S.
The company said NeuroBo has completed preparations for the trial, after obtaining investigational new drug (IND) approval from over 80 clinical research institutions across the U.S.
Dong-A ST completed the phase-1 study on DA-8010, an experimental treatment for irritable bladder, in Europe, and is conducting a phase-2 trial in Korea. Compared to conventional drugs, DA-8010 well suppresses bladder’s spontaneous shrinkage and has fewer side effects with higher user convenience, the company said.
The company’s type-2 diabetes treatment candidate DA-1241 has been tested in a phase-1b study in the U.S. since the third quarter last year.
Dong-A ST has also jumped on the biosimilar bandwagon.
The company has secured pipelines of biosimilars referencing red blood cell production stimulator Aranesp, the breast cancer drug Herceptin, and psoriasis treatment Stelara.
Among the three, the company has almost completed the development of DA-3880 (Aranesp biosimilar) and DMB-3111 (Herceptin biosimilar).
Dong-A ST spent 76.8 billion won ($67.1 million) for research and development expenses, which accounted for 13.5 percent of the revenue last year.
Dong-A ST’s R&D expense ranked seventh among pharmaceutical and biotech firms, but its proportion out of the revenue ranked third, after Celltrion and Hanmi Pharmaceutical.
The company has maintained the proportion of R&D investment out of the annual revenue above 13 percent level since 2016 – 13 percent in 2016 and 14.6 percent in 2017.
<© Korea Biomedical Review, All rights reserved.>